From today, 1 January 2010, the new Irish blasphemy law becomes operational, and we begin our campaign to have it repealed. Blasphemy is now a crime punishable by a €25,000 fine. The new law defines blasphemy as publishing or uttering matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby intentionally causing outrage among a substantial number of adherents of that religion, with some defences permitted.
We’re well into the 20th century, people. It’s 20-frickin’-10, even. It’s the future, moreso now than it’s ever been. And the modern developed world is still bringing in new laws to criminally punish people for blaspheming. That’s where you say something rude about somebody’s religion and they get upset about it. They’re making that against the law.
So, a group called Atheist Ireland have published 25 “blasphemous” quotes, from assorted characters of varying historical notability, and with a varying degree of seriousness. Jesus is in there himself, and Muhammad. Dawkins, from The God Delusion:
The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.
Hitchens, from God is not Great:
Islam when examined is not much more than a rather obvious and ill-arranged set of plagiarisms, helping itself from earlier books and traditions as occasion appeared to require…
And Matthias, son of Deuteronomy of Gath, as quoted in Monty Python’s Life of Brian:
That piece of halibut was good enough for Jehovah!
A nice selection there. And a couple of nice mentions for Tom Lehrer and Tim Minchin, too. I don’t have much to add, except my unequivocal support for this campaign, and in particular the sentiments in this paragraph explaining why they’re doing it:
Despite these quotes being abusive and insulting in relation to matters held sacred by various religions, we unreservedly support the right of these people to have published or uttered them, and we unreservedly support the right of any Irish citizen to make comparable statements about matters held sacred by any religion without fear of being criminalised, and without having to prove to a court that a reasonable person would find any particular value in the statement.